soccer season

Before we had kids, Cortney and I talked about how we would absolutely not push them into a sport or activity that they did not want to do. Yes, Cortney played soccer and I was a band nerd, but we weren’t going to make our kids do those things. We wanted them to follow their own passions and interests.

Of course, I know that both of us always hoped we would have at least one of our children interested in the things we were. I am holding out for at least one band geek–especially a brass player–so when Eddie tells me maybe he would like to play the tuba some day, I am encouraging, but not overly so. I don’t want him to think I will be horribly disappointed if he chooses a woodwind (shudder) or choir (bigger shudder).

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Eddie at 7 months.

It has never been a secret that Cortney hopes for a soccer player.

Cort played since he was very little and all the way through high school. He did some adult leagues before we were married and is hoping to get back into some this year or next.

And Eddie has been wearing little soccer warm-up suits since he was tiny.

He always picked the soccer ball out of the pile.

He always picked the soccer ball out of the pile.

Even though I think he would have hoped for a soccer player with a girl too, I know as soon as we found out Eddie was a boy, Cortney began to think about the day he would help his little guy lace up his first pair of cleats.

He knew this would be a way he could connect and build a relationship with his boy.  Not that he wouldn’t love and support any activity Eddie wanted to do, but this one was special to him.

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Cort even admitted a little jealousy because he never had cleats this awesome.

I was never athletic. I didn’t play any sports. While I was looking forward to Eddie playing soccer because he was excited about it, the Saturday morning games weren’t exactly what I would choose to do. But then I went to his first game.  And not only did I get to watch him be part of a team and love it, I got to hear Cortney cheer for his boy.

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I will admit that Eddie is entertaining to watch because not only does he do a good job (most of the time), but when he does super well–like the goal he scored this past week–he will dance and give the crowd some laughs. I have NO IDEA where he gets that part of his personality.

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Right now he plays for the fun of it. He has some natural talent which we encourage, but if next fall comes around and he doesn’t want to play again, we are not going to make him.

He’s already talking about doing Tball in the spring, which we will sign him up for soon.

But for another two weeks it’s soccer season.

It’s hard to believe my tiny guy who liked to roll the plush soccer ball back and forth is finally a big kid who wears shin guards and cleats.  Gone are his chubby dimple hands and feet. They have been replaced by long, lanky arms and legs with kid feet (that stink like kid feet after a game…PU!).

Sports are just another reminder that my boys are growing up. But it’s good. It’s something we have been dreaming about for five years and now we get to see it happening in action.

At least we have a few more years before this one chooses a fall sport.

At least we have a few more years before this one chooses a fall sport.

Whether this is our first soccer season of many or just a one and done sport, it doesn’t matter.  We are helping the boys find what they love to do. And that is most important of all.

 

Netflix Equals Family Night

 

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We have been outrageously busy since school started. Most week days involve us all flying out the door well before 7am, with Eddie and I getting home around 4pm and Cortney and Charlie getting home around 5pm. By that time I’m making dinner, Cortney is wrangling boys to get them ready for dinner, and then we are eating dinner.  Next comes baths and jammies. Before we know it we are settling down to watch a couple episodes of Curious George and then it’s off to bed.

Boys out by 8pm and I’m not usually far behind.

Which means all of our “family time” is a rushed battle of “put this on” and “eat this” and “wash up” and “for the love of all things, keep your hands and feet off your brother!”

These two are usually trying to kill each other in the 30 minutes between Charlie getting home and dinner being served.

These two are usually trying to kill each other in the 30 minutes between Charlie getting home and dinner being served.

Weekends have not been any better.

Friday nights have had soccer practice for Eddie with a game Saturday morning. We are rushing here and there constantly.

The theme Netflix sent us Stream Team members this month was about a family pizza and movie night. I thought it sounded like a fabulous idea!  Just what we needed!

And now here we are with just a few days left in September and we haven’t done it yet. So this past Friday night, I said enough. Eddie was supposed to have soccer practice at 6pm. But he was tired and sick of the week. We needed a break.

So we ordered up a pizza and sat together as a family who didn’t have anything pressing to get to.  It was Friday night, and we could all take a collective breath. AND I didn’t have to cook. Bonus.

Saturday after his game, Eddie and I sat down to watch some new episodes of Turbo Fast on Netflix. It was the perfect way to relax while Charlie napped and Cortney mowed the lawn. I may have even dozed off when Eddie started watching the new Clone Wars episodes.

It was a fabulous weekend. One we very much needed.

Thank you Netflix, for the inspiration to slow down and enjoy each other (and some fun shows)!

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The Trouble with Kindergarten

Being away from each other all day is not new. Since he was three months old, Eddie has been in someone else’s care other than mine.

Yet I miss him more this year than I ever have.

Kindergarten is way tougher on me and him than I thought it would be. Way.

I think about him all day. I pray for him all night. I wring my hands.

This isn’t how I thought it was going to be.  I figured he would have an adjustment period. In fact, I knew that even though he was used to be gone all day and used to being busy, it would still be a big change. He would have to make new friends and learn a new routine and get used to a new set of rules and expectations.

But I had all the confidence in the world that he would be just fine. He would thrive. He would struggle with being tired, but he would make friends quickly. He’s a natural leader and so kind to everyone.

I wasn’t wrong about his kindness and ability to make friends.

I wasn’t wrong about being confident.

I didn’t expect the tummy-aches and the worrying from him.

Every day at pick up he tells me he had a great day, and he proceeds to talk my ear off the entire ride home. Every night at bedtime he confesses he doesn’t want to go to school in the morning, and he proceeds to cry out his fears and anxieties.

He is going through the adjustment period that I knew he would. This is all normal stuff. I thought I was prepared.

But I didn’t realize how much it would all hurt my heart.

Kindergarten

Dear Eddie,

Today you start Kindergarten.

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We have been talking about it for months. You have vacillated between super excitement to absolute tears of nervousness. Choosing a lunch box/bag was all excitement. As was picking new batman, light up, tennis shoes.

But each night for the past week and a half you have held onto me (or daddy) and cried out your anxiety and fears. Your biggest stress is that you are so afraid you will miss me and daddy. You have been going to daycare your whole life from 7:00am to almost 5pm. You are used to being away from us. BUT you have also had Brooke and Evan with you as your buddies since you were two. They even were in your preschool class last year. Now you have to move on to something new without your besties.

I can see where that is scary.

But Eddie, I know you don’t believe me, but you will be amazing in Kindergarten.  While your fears break my heart because I can so very much remember feeling anxious like that, you are such a wonderful, smart little boy.

You will easily make friends and get to know your teacher, Mr. F, quickly.  You will learn so much this year. You love reading and math and noticing things…you will get to do all those things this year!  And more!  You will sing songs and do crafts and play outside. You will learn to tie your shoes and say your phone number. You will be reading to ME by the end of the school year!

I want you to know it’s Ok to be scared and nervous. Change can be super scary. I’m changing schools this year too, remember. And I’m a little nervous too!  I have taught high school kids, mostly 11th and 12th graders for 12 years!  Now I am going to teach 8th grade. That is a little scary.  So right now? You and I are both starting new schools and we are both nervous.

And it is OK. Because at 3:45, I will be there at the door to pick you up. And we will have an hour together before daddy and Charlie get home where we can rest or have a snack or just cuddle. Whatever you need.

I could say I can’t believe you’re old enough for school and that time has flown and all that stuff, and it’s true, but the truth is, you are ready. You are not a baby or a toddler anymore.  You are a very busy five-year old boy who is in love with learning and playing.

While I’ve been a little wistful (I only teared up once…when they showed that dang video at Kindergarten orientation that said this was your first step toward graduation. Sheesh), I have been mostly just proud.

I love how you hold your head a little higher when you tell people you are going to go to Kindergarten. I love how you look up with me with your proud little smile because you are proud of yourself and you KNOW I am beaming for you too.

You got this, my Eddie Bear. You do.

And I got you. I am here when you need to cry out your fears and anxieties, yes. But I am also here to listen to all the things you have learned and all the fun you have had.

Kindergarten is the start of a whole new part of your life…one you will excel at. One you will CRUSH.

I love you so much, my Eddie.

See you after school.

Love,

Mommy

Netflix and Kindness

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Eddie and I have been talking a LOT about the new school year.  Just today we filled out a questionnaire together from his teacher. It asked Eddie all sorts of questions about what kind of kid he is and what his interests are.  One of the last questions was “what would you like me to know about you?”

Eddie said, “that I am special.”

On the parent questionnaire, it asked many of the same questions, but in more detail. In the section about what our (as parents) expectations for Kindergarten are, I put that not only do we hope that K continues to foster Eddie’s natural curiosity and wonder about reading and math and other things, but we hope he continues to be a kind, helpful leader as well.

Also today, Eddie hung out with his aunt and uncle and little cousin, Lilly which Cortney and I moved some book shelves to my classroom. When we went to pick the boys up, my sister-in-law told us how helpful and kind Eddie was with Lilly, even counting to make her laugh when she was upset earlier.

One of my favorite Eddie traits is his kindness and willingness to help out.  His compassion even shows in the sorts of movies and shows he likes to watch.

All summer he and Charlie have loved watching Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.  I love this show because not only does it remind me of my favorite childhood show, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, but because the boys sing the little jingles and refer to the show after they see it.

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Much of the show teaches manner and kindness and doing “the right thing” which Eddie has definitely taken to heart. Even when Charlie is mean to him, it takes a LOT for Eddie to hit or push back.  He just doesn’t want to hurt his little brother.s

Most of the shows Eddie chooses for he and Charlie to watch are like this: Curious George, Super Why, Arthur, and Wild Krats all show characters making good choices.

Before having to go back to school, Eddie and I had a movie “day” during Charlie’s nap. He chose The Fox and the Hound.

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This was the very first movie my mom took me to see in the movie theater when I was about Eddie’s age.  Watching it though, I don’t remember it being so dang sad. Eddie noticed too, but kept saying, “they will be friends in the end. you watch. I bet.”  And he was right.

My boy believes in kindness and doing the right thing, and I am so glad that Netflix gives us lots of choices that encourage that belief in Eddie.

9 years later

You’ve been gone 9 years today.

9 whole years.

That boggles my mind.

When I think about your diagnosis, the treatments, and the end…it hurts almost worse now than it did at the time.  At the time I was so in the situation, and such a newbie in the family. I didn’t know all the people who were throwing their arms around me and praying over me. Shedding tears that fell on my skin.

I didn’t really know you.

I have pictures and stories, but because you were diagnosed in that one year I had with you before marrying your son, you were always surrounded by friends and family. I can count on one hand the times we spent as a normal “family” in the time after Cortney and I were engaged.

But it’s more than others got.

I have never ever forgotten how lucky we were to have you at our wedding.

Every single happy moment in our lives since then have had a small ache because you were missing it.

What would your reaction have been to each pregnancy announced by your children? What about the adoption of your grandsons? How would you have comforted your children through child loss? How would you have danced with your daughter at her wedding?  Or rejoiced to see your son marry his high school sweetheart?  How proud would you have been of the graduations and degrees we are all racking up?  Your your son-in-law’s first children’s book? How would you have gotten along with your kids in-laws?  What things would you teach your grandchildren?

I can’t help but see you in my own boys.  It makes me smile and breaks my heart.

I have forgotten your voice, your laugh, even what you looked like outside of photos. But I have never forgotten the twinkle in your eye. I see it in Cortney, Cody, MacKenzie, and all of your grandkids…especially Charlie.

This morning I was lying awake thinking about how proud of Cortney you must be. He is such a wonderful dad and husband. He is handy and smart. And he is a business owner. Just like you.

Sunday we all sat on MacKenzie and Dave’s new lawn and beach and had peach pie for your birthday. I looked at each member of the family and tried to see what you would see. I got choked up. Gosh. If there is bragging in heaven, you must do it heavily.

Today I took Eddie and Charlie to the flower shop. We ordered a lovely arrangement of happy flowers to go in front of the church on Sunday in your memory. We will be on nursery duty, but I hope people enjoy them. I hope they make people smile, the way you always did.

After the flower shop, we went to the bakery (or the donut shop, as Eddie calls it). Eddie and I have been coming here on August 14 for the past three years. Today Charlie was with us. I showed them some pictures of you. Eddie asked me why you looked so different at our wedding and I explained cancer to him for the first time. I also showed him your marina photo. He said, “now THAT looks like daddy!”  That made me smile.

We sure do miss you.

Each of us differently, of course, but the pain is still there.

9 years or 900 years…I think it will still hurt.

For now we see the joy in that hurt. The pain means there was a lot of love there.

Love and laughter.

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Internet Friends are Real and Other Lessons

I’ve been home from BlogHer for over a week and a half now and I’m still trying to figure out how to write a recap.

Ok, let’s be honest, I’m struggling to write anything.

Before BlogHer, my whole family got sick. It started with Eddie and a trip to the ER. He was burning up and was sick and scared. Turned out he had a nasty case of strep throat. Then Charlie got it. Then I got it. Then Cortney got it.

We also have this THING going on (that’s not bad, but I can’t talk about it yet).

Just before leaving, my wonderful friend, The Preacher’s Wife, dropped off homemade soup, salad, applesauce, cookies, and a nice crusty loaf of bread. I cried. I just felt so…taken care of. It sounds silly to say out loud, but other than my mom, I don’t have many women near me who just do that sort of thing.

So then the next day I left for San Jose.

My first full day there I found out Eddie was sick all over again. Or rather he was still sick. The antibiotics hadn’t taken care of it all. Cortney was worried that if Eddie didn’t get rid of his fever, his plans to go to a concert Saturday night would be thwarted. I worried because I felt guilty that Cortney was losing so many days at work (and possibly a fun night out) and I was on the other side of the country.

But something happened at the conference.

While I did spend a lot (a LOT) of time texting with Cortney about everyone’s health, I was also surrounded by women who were legitimately concerned too.

I’ve been blogging for seven years, and over that time I have heard over and over “find your tribe”. I will admit right here that I always thought that was hokey.  Wasn’t that just another way of telling women to find their blogger “clique”?  What was this? High school?  I wasn’t in any “tribe” in high school and I wasn’t going to start now. I just get along with everyone…or almost everyone.

Just over a year ago I found myself in a blogger tribe. A group of women who where, at first, my go-to for all things internet and writing. But as we all communicated, it became so much more. Since we are all personal bloggers, personal stuff gets intertwined in the discussion about blogging. We have been there for intense high moments (births, graduations, etc) and horrible lows (pregnancy loss, deaths in the family, divorce, etc).

Many of these women were at BlogHer. Whenever they saw me, the first thing out of their mouths was always, “how are  you? Is everything Ok with the boys? How is the THING?” I felt loved and cared for even though I was worried and exhausted from stupid jet lag.

And that extended to the rest of the conference too. It was smaller this year than in the past years I went and I liked that.

Every presentation I went to from Jenny Lawson to Kerry Washington, from Tig Notaro to all the 10×10’s, and especially the VOTY (which is my #1 reason for wanting to be there in the first place, I felt this mad supportive vibe. The conference was intimate and more intense than ever. Over and over I felt the message was TELL YOUR STORY. TELL IT.

And the stories we heard: hilarious, heart-wrenching, horrible.

I tried to say hi to everyone that I know online if I saw them, but I know I missed a few.

I didn’t feel stressed out by the conference this year because there weren’t a zillion things going on at once. I liked that they eliminated all the outside parties and events and kept everything close.

I was a little bummed by the food choices. I mean, I get that we were in California, but a side salad is not a meal, yo. As Homer Simpson says, “You don’t make friends with salad.” And of course, as usual, the water/beverage situation was lacking. I will say breakfast was yum though. #baconrules

But in the grand scheme of it all, those are minor complaints.

Overall BlogHer was what I needed. I needed to hear those stories and be encouraged to tell mine. I needed to be reminded of the greatness of being a blogger…of being a personal blogger.

Voice matters.

And the voices of my friends were loud and clear: you matter to us, Katie.

In the span of two weeks I experienced something that I never really did before: women taking care of women just because it’s the kind thing to do. Because it’s how we hope our fellow sisters will treat us.

My blogging “tribe”, The Preacher’s Wife, and so many others just praying and helping where they can.

It’s a gift to realize you are loved.

I spend a lot of time an energy thinking about how I am not good at female friendships, but the past few weeks have proven to me that I don’t suck at them either.

just a few of the women who I call my friends. Photo credit: Elaine of The Miss Elaine-ous Life

just a few of the women who I call my friends. Photo credit: Elaine of The Miss Elaine-ous Life

Netflix for Learning

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When Eddie was 3 months old and I was going back to work after maternity leave, Cortney was laid off from work. Cort spent his days being a stay at home dad, looking for work, and watching documentaries on Netflix. So many documentaries. And the topic really didn’t matter to him. He would watch films on subjects such as beer as well as fonts.

You think I’m kidding. He totally watched a documentary called Helvetica. Yes, it was almost 3 hour devoted to the history of a FONT.

He’s not the only one who loves to mix some learnin’ in with his TV watchin’. I’ve been known to camp out in front of Modern Marvel marathons myself. Remember when channels like History actually had shows about history of stuff on it?  Ah the good old days…thank goodness for Netflix!

I was going to try to list for you the documentaries Netflix has available, but then I spent almost 30 minutes falling down the rabbit hole of what is available and wanting to see about 50 of them.

So instead I’ll tell you the learning stuff the boys love.

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We went through a pretty heavy Busytown Mysteries phase here in Sluiter Nation. It was the go-to bedtime show. Recently Eddie and Charlie discovered The Magic School Bus which brings back fond memories for me.  I never watched the show, but my brothers had a lot of the books and when I babysat them, I read those books over and over. I think my mom still has them at her house.  I should try to find them.

As I type this, it is nap time for Charlie, and Eddie is watching Turtle: The Incredible Journey.  He claimed to know everything about turtles, but he is pretty entranced in watching all those baby turtles book it off the beach to the sea.

So you’ll have to excuse me. I’m going to shut down my computer now and watch about the lives of turtles with Eddie.

Share some documentaries or learning shows you and your family love!

crack the door

I started going to the chiropractor this summer (which is a whole post in and of itself). I’ve got the routine down pat: Go in the exam room, take off clothes from the waist up, put on gown, crack the door so the doctor knows you’re ready. There is even a little sign that reminds us: “Female patients: crack the door about a half inch when you are ready”.

I wondered a little bit what would happen if I forgot to crack the door. Would I just sit there waiting and waiting? Would someone knock? Or would it be up to me to open the door to let the doctor in?

Closed doors are sort of the international sign for “go away,” aren’t they?

When I don’t want anyone disturbing my class, I shut the door.

When Eddie and Charlie are not available to play with the neighbor kids, we shut the garage door.

When we need privacy in the bathroom, we shut the door.

When we want to keep someone out, we shut the door. When we are ready to have visitors, we open it.

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I don’t think I ever really shut my heart to God, but I did close it far enough that the “crack” was barely visible. At least to human eyes. In all my youthful questioning, the door was never really shut. It was later, when loss seemed to be our new way of life that I started bumping the door to almost shut.

When Cortney lost his job, Eddie was 3 months old and colicky, and I was suffering from depression and anxiety, the door was as good as closed. I hadn’t pushed it all the way to latching, but I wanted nothing to do with a God who would take away so much from me and my family. One who seemed to want nothing but pain and hurt to wave over us.

If ever I was going to shut my heart’s door, it was then.

But for some reason I didn’t actually give it that last push. I didn’t allow it to latch.

And even though it appeared to everyone–including myself–that my heart was closed to church and God and anything having to do with religion, God knew it wasn’t really closed.

Over the past nine months, I’ve cracked my heart’s door. I’ve allowed some light to pour through. I’ve cautiously opened myself to new relationships with people, church, and Jesus.

That is not to say that I’ve flung my door wide open and am swaying to praise music with my arms in the air. No. I have questions. I have doubts. I wonder how my political and social views fit with the theology of the church.

I remain cautious as I continue to learn and grow in this newish faith. I carefully watch and listen as I am told that the church is called to be one, but to embrace diversity of all kinds. Disagreement doesn’t mean you’re kicked out.

So I have cracked the door to my heart to let the light in a little because I am ready.

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Don’t forget to join me tomorrow (Tue, July 15) at 8pm est for a twitter party with Imagine Toys! Follow #ImagineToys and learn about blogging opps, possibly win prizes, and have fun!

Imagine the Possibilities

One of Eddie’s favorite birthday gifts was a “sidewalk art” themed gift from his aunt MacKenzie and uncle Dave. It included sidewalk chalk, sidewalk paint, and sidewalk tattoos. There are two reasons he loves this gift: 1) it was artsy and he loves all things arts and crafts and 2) it was an outdoor activity.

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If it’s possible, Charlie likes outdoor play even more than Eddie does. As soon as he gets up in the morning he asks if we can go “houtside”. And once he’s “houtside”, just try to get him to come in.  Seriously.

"Charlie, it's time to come in." "no."

“Charlie, it’s time to come in.”
“no.”

It’s good though, this love of play–and outdoor play, specifically. My kids are getting fresh air, exercise, and a stretch of their imaginations. They run and laugh and make believe.

This is probably why partnering with Imagine Toys was so natural for me. All of their toys promote interactive family play and big imaginations! Their Kaboom! Collection is cool because it promotes outdoor play as well. Plus 8% of each Kaboom! toy sale goes to bringing outdoor play to the lives of all American children.

Imagine is also a small, women-run business and local to me here in Michigan (Battle Creek to be exact).  It’s like we were made to go together. Like peas and carrots.

Part of my working with them means that they are sending me to BlogHer in San Jose, California in a week and a half (I’ll be the hottie with the Imagine Toys gear on).

While I’m there I’ll be armed with some goodies for bloggers who are seriously interested in working with Imagine Toys. Have I piqued your interest? Want to know more?

GOOD!

Tuesday, July 15, I will be hosting a twitter party talking all about Imagine Toys, Kaboom, and how to get involved. I also get to giveaway FIVE sweet prizes:

 

I KNOW you want to join me, yes?

So mark your calendar for Tuesday, July 15th at 8pm EST and follow me (@ksluiter), Imagine Toys (@imaginetoys), and the #ImagineToys hashtag.  We will have a fun discussion about playing and toys and you can learn more about being an Imagine Toys Blogger…and maybe win something!

See you there!

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I was not compensated for writing this post nor will I be compensated for the twitter party. Imagine Toys is sending me to BlogHer as a brand ambassador. US bloggers only are eligible for prizes and blogging partnerships. 
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